One of the biggest questions about Season 14 of “The Voice” on NBC will be the quality of Kelly Clarkson as a coach. Fans have already seen her in action last season as a special advisor, and it was a real coup for “The Voice” producers to steal her services over the relaunched “American Idol.” It was that program that started her career back in 2002 when she won as top artist of the first season on Fox. Kelly faces off against defending champion Blake Shelton (a six-time winner), three-time coaching champ Adam Levine, and returning coach Alicia Keys, who skipped last season but won last spring for Season 12.
Blind auditions kick off on the episode for Monday, February 26, and will continue for the first six shows. Enjoy our live updating blog below as we review every single performance as they happen. A new feature for blind auditions is the “block.” It will allow a coach to block another coach from getting an artist, even though he or she has turned their big red chair around.
Over the following weeks, battle round episodes will follow the blinds. Advisors will be Julia Michaels (Team Adam), Trace Adkins (Team Blake), Shawn Mendes (Team Alicia) and Hailee Steinfeld (Team Kelly). The knockout round will follow the battles and then the live episodes where you can vote for your favorites. Once the live playoffs start you will also be able to make picks each week in our predictions center. While that is not yet open for “The Voice,” you can already make predictions for such reality TV shows as “Survivor,” plus Independent Spirit Awards, Oscars, Razzies and more.
Live blog below for Monday, February 26:
8:00 p.m. – I’m looking forward to Kelly’s first episode as a coach! She was fantastic as an advisor last season and her fun, outgoing personality should bring a breath of fresh air to the series. I’m also looking forward to Alicia’s return. In just her sophomore season, she coached one of my favorite champions to date, Chris Blue. Can she repeat that success this time around? Adam and Blake will no doubt do everything they can to prevent it. Let’s get started!
8:10 p.m. – Each coach can now block one of their rival coaches from getting an artist, but they can only use it once. This is a fun new twist, but only benefits the coach, not the artist. Let’s see how it pans out. But first, let’s meet the first artist of the night, Britton Buchannon, a 17-year old cross-over artist singing “Trouble.” I don’t think the first artist has ever gone home, so his chances are good. He looks like a young Matt Damon and has a clear, yet bluesy voice. He could be a real charmer as the season progresses. Adam, Alicia and Blake each turned their chairs. It appears Kelly is being picky for her first go-around. And right off the bat, Blake blocked Adam! After a quick debate, Britton chose Alicia as his coach. After using his only block, Blake was left empty-handed. He seems satisfied by just preventing Adam from scoring the young singer.
8:25 p.m. – Our next artist is Brynn Cartelli, a 14-year old fan of Kelly’s who enjoys playing sports and writing songs. She is performing “Beneath Your Beautiful.” Wow! What a beautiful tone. Certain aspects of it actually resemble Kelly, who was the first coach to turn her chair. At the last second, Blake posed a challenge. Brynn has a pretty voice, but it’s not too powerful. Kelly claims she could win with her. I disagree, but we can never predict anyone’s journey on this series. After the two coaches hashed it out, Brynn made history by becoming the first-ever member of Team Kelly!
8:37 p.m. – Up next is Rayshun LaMarr, a 33-year old performer who has recovered from life-threatening cancer. While in intensive care, he repeatedly listened to “Don’t Stop Believin,” and will now perform it for a chance to make a team. His voice is powerful and soulful, with the rock edge needed to pull this song off. He clearly loves the stage, but is a little over-dramatic with the antics. That can easily be coached, but his soaring voice is what matters. Both Adam and Alicia turned their chairs. Adam said of the performance, “Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever turned around and said, ‘I can’t believe that’s a black dude. It’s usually the other way around.'” After the coaches gave their pitch, Rayshun chose to join Team Adam.
8:50 p.m. – Next is Kyla Jade, a 33-year old gospel singer who grew up singing in church who has sang backup for Carrie Underwood, Wynonna Judd and “The Voice’s” very own Jennifer Hudson! Kyla is now taking center stage with “See Saw.” At the beginning, she sounded a bit nervous and it took her a while to get into the groove of things. But once she let her voice loose she really tore up the ending of the performance and her range is insane. With a great coach, Kyla could be a force, but she is tentative. Blake and Kelly each turned their chairs. Ultimately, Kyla shocked the audience and chose Blake as her coach. I can say this about Blake, if he gets a great soul singer, he holds on to them as long as he can. That was a wise, calculated choice by Kyla.
9:00 p.m. – Blaise Racugglia, a 25-year old Christian rock singer who started his own ministry, is up next. He took the stage with “Wanted,” but failed to make believers out of any of the coaches. He is just an average singer with no star power. He was pitchy throughout the song and isn’t ready for prime time.
9:10 p.m. – Kelsea Johnson, an energetic 21-year old, is singing to honor her recently deceased grandfather. She’s performing “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” and has a round, full tone. She looks like a star wearing a floral pantsuit and rocking a 1980’s Whitney Houston hairstyle. This girl is likable! Her upper register isn’t the strongest I’ve heard, but she has potential. Adam, Alicia and Kelly all turned around. Kelly seems the most enthusiastic to work with her, but Kelsea chose Team Alicia!
9:16 p.m. – Up next is Drew Cole, a 25-year old bartender who works at a movie theater in Los Angeles. Will this be the big break he is hoping for? He let down his hipster man-bun and the locks are flowing for his national television debut as a pop-rock star. He is singing “Sex and Candy,” and he already looks like he’s in the top 12. This guy is oozing with star power like nobody else has shown thus far. He has a strong falsetto to go with his chest voice. Remarkably, only Adam and Blake turned their chairs. After they fought over him, Drew decided to join Team Adam.
9:25 p.m. – The next performer of the night is ready to take the stage. D.R. King is singing “Believer.” If he is a great singer, it’s hard to tell because this song is too wordy! Finally, he hits the chorus and he does have a strong, nice belting tone. I think this was an absolutely terrible song choice, so the fact he figured out to show off his voice within it should be applauded. He can only improve from here. It took a while, but Kelly and Blake both turned their chairs. There’s something odd about this guy, in a good way. I think he could surprise us later this season. After careful consideration, D.R. chose Team Kelly!
9:40 p.m. – The next artist to take the stage is Kaleb Lee, a country singer who grew up on a farm. He gave up music to support his family, but after a seven year break, he is hoping he can finally get his big break. Singing “Never Wanted Nothing More,” Kaleb has a husky, contemporary country voice. He sounds like many current artists, but might need to find his own unique voice. Regardless, Blake and Kelly both turned around to face off once again. Can Kelly actually snag a country artist from Blake? Nope! Not even Kelly can break that magic spell Blake has over country artists on this show. Team Blake it is.
9:50 p.m. – Up next is19-year old Makenzie Thomas, who grew up listening to gospel and R&B. She’s always been teased for being overweight and when she sings it frees her from her troubles. She hopes to impress Alicia with a performance of “Redbone.” Unfortunately, her pitch is all over the map. She sprinkles in some solid power notes, but overall this performance isn’t cutting it.
9:59 p.m. – The final performer of the night is Justin Kilgore, a good ol’ boy from Texas who struggled to come out of the closet as a gay man. Finally comfortable in his own skin, Justin is ready to chase after all his dreams. Singing “Tomorrow,” and this the country voice the coaches have been waiting! He has a low, buttery tone. And we have our first four-chair turn! Tired of seeing Blake rake in all the top country singers, Alicia used her one and only Block in hopes of getting Justin for herself. But she still has to contend with Adam and Kelly. After he let the coaches know his favorite singer is Kelly’s mother-in-law, Reba McEntire, things look bleak for Alicia. After a fierce debate from the coaches, Justin chose to join Team Kelly. Alicia didn’t seem too torn up about it and looked satisfied just to stick it to Blake. That’s a wrap for night one of Season 14!